Oct 30, 2011 at 1:23
The following e-mail exchange is real. The original mailing was from Russell T. Harrison, who is IEEE-USA’s “Senior Legislative Representative for Grassroots Activities.”
After recent collectives such as the Tea Party one has to wonder how the term ‘grassroots’ and legislative lobbying can be mutually inclusive? Harrison’s background is in ‘grassroots programs’ with steel and scrap recycling, as well as representing such industries on Capitol Hill. He holds a BA in political science from Allegheny College (Meadville, PA) and a Masters in public policy from the University of Maryland. Not, one would have thought, a great résumé to understand the needs and aspirations of the engineering membership of the institute.
Mind you, of the fifteen senior staff members listed at IEEE-USA, not a single one has an engineering degree; the nearest technical qualifications are one member who has worked as a nuclear power technician in the US Navy, and another wh...
Oct 22, 2011 at 11:05
Fifteen years ago it was not unusual to get into my office at Electronic Design Magazine in San José to be greeted with a short stack of FedEx envelopes with each one containing a one or two page press release and a glossy photograph of an IC, inevitably shot alongside an uncirculated shiny dime or a penny for size comparison. What often happened next was always a surprise to me – although it should have become routinely expected – when the phone would ring with someone from an agency “just checking that you received our FedEx package…” I was usually as well behaved as possible by agreeing that it had arrived safely rather than referring the enquirer to FedEx tracking.
Little did the caller know what happened to those releases. My desk would have spoken volumes if they could have seen it. They joined the pile.
Whatever story I was working on at the time was not determined by a random press release arriving unheeded by courier; it was nearly always the result of personal...
Oct 15, 2011 at 10:43
There can be nowhere in the world more sensitive to government surveillance on its citizens than in Germany. The history of the Nazi party and its intrusion into the very existence of the people will not be forgotten easily or quickly; everything to do with that era is still taken very seriously – particularly denial. In what was Eastern Germany the communist regime brought similar terrors of citizens spying on their fellows, but while the peoples of other countries like Russia still flinch at the sound of early knocks on the front door there is for some reason not the same fear of government itself.
It was therefore an incredible surprise that the first confirmed documentation of a government spying on its people should come from Germany. Yes, we are well aware of the illicit doings of the Bush administration (and continuing today?) and the T-connections made to monitor Internet service in places like AT&T’s Room 641A in the (now) SBC Building in Folsom Street in San Francisco but that was a...
Oct 9, 2011 at 12:03
Nestlé is a quintessentially French Swiss company, even though the name means ‘little nest’ in German. Based in the Lac Léman town of Vevey, a few kilometers from Montreux, it exudes the same attitudes that you expect of a lot of the population of its more renowned neighbor: an arrogance that leaves visitors with the taste of “leave your money, and go home.” I speak, unfortunately, from the experience of many years of participating in trade shows in that part of the world.
But when it comes to local fondue and cheese, Nestlé has no history. Indeed the original company was founded by Henri Nestlé, a pharmacist, in the mid 1860s in an attempt to find an alternative to breast milk for the infants that often were left to die with no viable nutrition. Very egalitarian, one might think, yet it is that original arena that has brought the company its most troubles in the last decades.
Henri called his cow’s milk/flour/sugar concoction Farine Lactée He...
Oct 2, 2011 at 12:00
The official language of the territory that the British decided to call Nigeria is English, and has been since the early colonial days of the eighteenth century; although, to most of us who have lived there, pidgin English is a great deal more familiar. The fact is that there are actually over five hundred separate languages catalogued in that country, most of them living languages and nearly all with native speakers.
In the early nineteenth century a Yoruba child named Ajavi was kidnapped by Falani raiders together with his mother and siblings, and, after passing through several different ‘owners,’ was eventually put on board a Portuguese slave vessel en-route to the West Indies. A British anti-slave warship sank the Portuguese vessel – together with most of the slaves, unfortunately – but Ajavi ended up in the loving hands of missionaries in Sierra Leone. He took the name Samuel Ajavi (anglicized as Adjai) Crowther (Reverend Samuel Crowther was a famous preacher at Christ’s Ch...